Every so often Ricin pops up in the news. In December 2013, a Texas woman pleaded guilty to sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Then in January 2014 a Mississippi man pleaded guilty to sending poison-laced letters to the President and other officials. Now a new twist!
On March 19,2014, a Hatboro, PA (population less than 8000) man was arrested for allegedly sending a scratch-and-sniff birthday card laced with ricin to a man now dating his ex-girlfriend! Nicholas Todd Helman, 19, was charged with attempted murder and risking catastrophe after lab tests showed that the card he placed in the man’s family mailbox on March 6 contained ricin. Lab results were final just this week.
What is even more amazing is how it was discovered. Helman, obviously proud of his chemical handiwork, had bragged of the toxic card to a coworker at Target on March 6. The coworker then notified police and police called the man’s home and spoke to his mother, asking whether she had retrieved the mail that day.
The mother, who, like her son, was not identified, told police that her daughter was outside retrieving the mail at that moment. Police advised them to return the mail to the mailbox, and authorities then came to the home to retrieve the card.
Initial tests did not indicate that the card contained ricin. When Helman was first questioned about the incident, on March 7, he told police that he had only coated the card with sodium hydroxide, the affidavit says, which he chose because it resembled the toxin anthrax. Authorities then sent the card away for subsequent lab tests and those results confirmed this week that the card had traces of ricin
The dose on the card was not in a powder form that could spread and there were no indications that anyone had been harmed by it. The police noted “if properly deployed, the stuff he put in that envelope would have killed a whole bunch of people.”
Then on March 20, 2014, a secret stash of additional ricin, left over from the alleged plot, was found beneath a gas manhole cover in Hatboro.
In a separate bizarre story this week, a Georgetown University student has been charged with possessing ricin after it was discovered in his dorm room. Daniel Harry Milzman, also 19, is facing federal charges for possession of more than 120 milligrams of the poison — a potentially lethal amount. Milzman informed his residential adviser Monday that he had created ricin and showed the adviser a plastic bag containing what he claimed was the substance. Milzman told FBI investigators after his arrest that he made the ricin in his dorm room about a month ago using materials that he got from local stores, including Home Depot and American Plant Company.
During the production, he wore goggles and a dust mask, which authorities later found in the room. Milzman told investigators that his roommate was not in the room when he made the ricin. He stored the toxin in plastic bags secured with hockey tape.
What was he thinking?!?!?!?!?! What were they both thinking!?!?!?!?!?!?